Catching up on my summer magazine reading, I just read the July 2015 editor’s comment from Wired Magazine. Mastering the Work-Life Mix, by Scott Dadich, showed a perspective on an aspect of the current work environment that I had been grappling with for a while. To paraphrase, after being given a promotion during a lunch meeting, Dadich was told by his boss that;
This job will become you, and you will become this job. I will expect you to always answer the phone when I call, and I will expect you to always behave in a manner befitting your position. Always.
His boss was challenging the idea of separating work life from personal life. Many cringe at the thought of work-life overlap, but Dadich notes that the overlap is one of the main differences between a career and a job. A career often requires stretching beyond the 8 hour workday. Agonizing over keeping our current work and personal selves separate is not only stressful, but unattainable. And this blurring between our different roles is only likely to become more pronounced with new technologies allowing us to become more available and productive.
And it goes both ways. Of course we need time to re-charge, escape, and re-invent ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that we only do that on holiday. Work can also be a time to explore options that benefit ourselves more than the organization for whom we work. Taking the time to connect, play, network, rest, and challenge ourselves is often encouraged while at the place of employment. The only metric being that the tasks get completed.
The best organizations know this, however, many of us spend far too long trying to define the work life balance and the truth is, there is no easy and complete definition. We all have to manage our time on our own by being as flexible as we can. Using the phrase Work-Life Mix might help us acknowledge that need for flexibility.
Note: I wrote this post on a weekend return flight from a conference - the mix in action.